Sunday 11 November 2007

Relational Reality and Dysfunction

Truth, Peace and Pseudo-Mutuality
Zechariah 8:19 unequivocally exhorts us
to “love truth and peace” in our relationships.

Truth and peace are the “sine quo non” of relational health. They are the two core criteria to help us assess our “relational reality”. Truth and peace are very different from the common “dysfunctional counterfeits” of half-truths and feigned unity. We often settle for these counterfeits, although deep inside we really want relationships that are much more healthy. But are we willing to pay the price?
As an illustration, consider this drawing below, from one of my first “books” called Tommy Tomato Runs Away (1968). What does this picture say about the Tomato family’s “relational reality”? How close are they—physically and emotionally--as they sit around the table? Tommy is on the right, the mom is on the left, and the dad is in the middle. They are all smiling, but they are distant….and this incongruence is a tell-tale sign that something is not right.

A related concept is “pseudo-mutuality” from the family therapy field. This concept refers to relationships that are characterised by a superficial or even false intimacy. People pretend to be close, and everthing is always "nice"—hence there is a distortion of reality. Truth and peace get compromised. Dysfunctional systems and people practice this type of pseudo-mutuality.
In summary: The core purpose of dysfunction is to distort reality. This distortion helps to protect oneself, one’s family, one’s organisation, etc. It replaces truth and peace with the counterfeit--pretending.

Refection and Discussion
** To what extent are any of your current relationships reflected in:
a) the above picture, or b) the concept of pseudo-mutuality?
**What are a couple things you can do with your friends/colleagues in order to promote a “relational reality” characterised by more truth and peace?

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